Friday, June 15, 2012

Old Habits Die Hard

I'm haunted by old habits.

It would be easier if I could start over with a clean slate.  But I'm tainted by the past.

Even if I find a better way to do something, I can't seem to break that old habit.

The Rubik's Cube
It's been a few years since I first learned a method to solve the Rubik's Cube.  I slogged away using one of the most inefficient, although straightforward methods for solving the cube.  But I've learned a great deal since then.

Like most things in life, it's not until after you've mastered the basics that you learn useful shortcuts.  But for me, I always gravitate back to the method I've been using since the beginning.  Although I have graduated to more advanced concepts that are clearly faster and more efficient, I inevitably revert to what I know.

My brain will pleads, "Just do, F, R, U', R', U', R, U, R', F'!"  But muscle memory kicks in, ignores that voice in my head, and my fingers just move according to the beginner's playbook.  It's something I cannot turn off.  It's something I'm too comfortable with.

When I'm in the zone, I just do what comes naturally, right or wrong.  It's a force of habit.

Writing Habits
The same goes for writing.

When I'm in the writing zone, it's really difficult to keep track of all of the tricks and techniques that make good writing great.  Or in my case, bad writing good.

One of my habits is writing scores of description and exposition with no real purpose in the scene.  Being enamored with the genius of your own prose is such a novice thing to do, but I can't help it.  Even if I know I should be thinking about things like conflict or establishing character, that beautiful prose wins out.

Perhaps you have a habit of using the same words over and over again.  Perhaps I'm guilty of it right now.  The truth is, it doesn't really matter while you're in the zone, as long as you apply all of the tips and tricks and lessons afterward, when you edit.

Your turn.  When you're in the writing zone, what bad habits are you haunted by? 

Thank you to Sudipto Sarkar on Flickr for the image!

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